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Amp or DAC? Which to buy first for HD 600

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

So I will be getting a pair of Sennheiser HD 600s tomorrow, but only have enough money to get the cans and either an amp or a DAC. My audio source would be my 5 year old laptop, and a minor concession would be a small portable amplifier in my possession, a Fiio E6. It claims to be able to drive up to 300ohms, but I highly doubt it would be able to drive the HD 600s sufficiently. If I were to get an amp first it would be the Little Dot MKII (OTL tube amp) and if I were to get the DAC first it would be either the Fiio E07K or Schiit Modi. Can anyone offer some suggestions to my current dilemma? Any input would be appreciated greatly. Thanks! :) 

post #2 of 15

what is your budget?

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

My budget is $150 USD

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

For my DAC I would also be considering the Fiio E10

post #5 of 15

Laptop sources are notoriously bad.  That's probably the weakest link in the equipment you describe.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

In that case I should purchase the DAC first. Just a quick question, how would the lack of sufficient amplification affect the SQ of my cans? Would the reduction in SQ (as compared to a properly amped headphone) be very drastic? The Fiio E10 also includes an amp, so it would cushion the impact of the SQ drop.

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shockah View Post
 

In that case I should purchase the DAC first. Just a quick question, how would the lack of sufficient amplification affect the SQ of my cans? Would the reduction in SQ (as compared to a properly amped headphone) be very drastic? The Fiio E10 also includes an amp, so it would cushion the impact of the SQ drop.


You're asking the question of the ages when it comes to headphones.  Think of it as a high-performance car that grips the road with stiff shocks and finely tuned steering.  Every bump, every curve, every response to movement from the steering wheel is felt and reacted upon in some way.  On the other hand, a big boat of a car might glide through all of the bumps, turns and steering wheel movements so that someone could go to sleep in the seat.  Hearing the details in music with a good amp (or source) is a similar analogy.

 

With a good headphone amp, you often don't realize what you're missing until you hear it.

 

As for whether the FiiO E10's amp would "cushion the impact," I don't know.  Just remember that every device, small or large, sound card, portable player, or laptop motherboard - all contain an amp.  They couldn't drive a headphone if they didn't.  The difference is, what kind of quality does that amp have?

 

I still say based on your comments, you need a decent source, first.  After that, should you pursue a quality amp?  Of course, if your intent is to continue to pursue the best in sound quality.;) 

post #8 of 15

honestly, i think its best to go for an amp first. Yes source is important, but your computer probably doesnt even have the capability to drive the HD600 properly. You'll prolly get very recessed bass or some response that just isnt true to the HD600. So amp first, yes you wont get the best resolution, but at least the sound wont be oddly off.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 

Laptop sources are notoriously bad.  That's probably the weakest link in the equipment you describe.

Actually my cheap laptop - HP4410s seems to have better SQ than my GS3 or Sansa Clip Zip. Is it possible because it is A/C powered? Would that make a difference?

post #10 of 15

@OP, I would suggest you to go for modi/magni stack or Audio GD 15.32 for better results.


Edited by rubinstein - 12/14/13 at 6:23am
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the suggestions! Now first things first, I have the HD 600s on my head right now and listening to it right now I would say that it most definitely does not sound bad. In the audio store, I listened to their setup Mac > iFi iUSB > iFi iDAC > iFi iCan > HD 600. Comparatively, through my setup (PC > Fiio E6 > HD 600) the HD 600s' highs sound slightly more rolled off and cymbals less crisp, bass lacks a bit of extension, and soundstage a tad smaller, but not to the extent of 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotnijoe View Post
 

very recessed bass or some response that just isnt true to the HD600

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rubinstein View Post
 

@OP, I would you to go for modi/magni stack or Audio GD 15.32 for better results.

 

Ok well due to unforeseen circumstances, I can now purchase both the amp and the dac concurrently, aka, right now. I have considered the Schiit stack before, however, its price is beyond my budget (yes you heard correctly, bought locally, it is about $300 USD) which is $230 USD. As for the Audio GD NFB 15.32, its price is only slightly out of my budget, yet when shipping comes into consideration... So my primary question would be, is the Little Dot MKII a suitable amp for the HD 600? The DAC in question is pretty much set on the Fiio E10

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by zamorin View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 

Laptop sources are notoriously bad.  That's probably the weakest link in the equipment you describe.

Actually my cheap laptop - HP4410s seems to have better SQ than my GS3 or Sansa Clip Zip. Is it possible because it is A/C powered? Would that make a difference?


There are always exceptions, but I doubt that it has anything to do with being AC-powered.

post #13 of 15

tomb,

 

thanks for your response.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shockah View Post

 

Ok well due to unforeseen circumstances, I can now purchase both the amp and the dac concurrently, aka, right now. I have considered the Schiit stack before, however, its price is beyond my budget (yes you heard correctly, bought locally, it is about $300 USD) which is $230 USD. As for the Audio GD NFB 15.32, its price is only slightly out of my budget, yet when shipping comes into consideration... So my primary question would be, is the Little Dot MKII a suitable amp for the HD 600? The DAC in question is pretty much set on the Fiio E10

 

So you already have an E10 and now you need an amp? Is that where you are currently at? Why don't you check if it will power your HD600 fine first as it also has an amp on there.

 

Why not get an 02? I recommend Magni or E12 if you are really concerned about power. 

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KamijoIsMyHero View Post
 

 

So you already have an E10 and now you need an amp? Is that where you are currently at? Why don't you check if it will power your HD600 fine first as it also has an amp on there.

 

Why not get an 02? I recommend Magni or E12 if you are really concerned about power. 

 

That is a good suggestion, but I have yet to order the E10. As for the amp I only have 1 qualm with the O2. Is the O2 amp going to sound too harsh when used with the Beyer DT880 600ohm? I intend to get those cans as a sidegrade in the future but cant audition the O2 amp with headphones I dont own. Thats why I have been leaning towards tubes for their known synergy with both cans and they definitely wont make either sound sibilant or overly bright

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